Body and Soul Reviews

  • Feb 13, 2018

    Paul Robeson stars as an escaped con posing as a preacher in his screen debut. He's a drunk and a gambler, and he rapes the daughter of one of his parishioners and blackmails her into stealing all her mother's money and giving it to him. The daughter comes clean to her mother right before dying and she blows the whistle on Robeson. When you think of Robeson, you think mainly on his amazing voice, so it's a bit disconcerting to see him in a silent film. He is excellent and really carries this film. Like many of Micheaux's films, it has some puzzling plot elements that serve to muddle it's clarity without really adding anything to the main narrative. Robeson has a second role as his own estranged twin brother, and this plot thread really amounts to nothing.

    Paul Robeson stars as an escaped con posing as a preacher in his screen debut. He's a drunk and a gambler, and he rapes the daughter of one of his parishioners and blackmails her into stealing all her mother's money and giving it to him. The daughter comes clean to her mother right before dying and she blows the whistle on Robeson. When you think of Robeson, you think mainly on his amazing voice, so it's a bit disconcerting to see him in a silent film. He is excellent and really carries this film. Like many of Micheaux's films, it has some puzzling plot elements that serve to muddle it's clarity without really adding anything to the main narrative. Robeson has a second role as his own estranged twin brother, and this plot thread really amounts to nothing.

  • Sep 03, 2016

    Narratively ... weird. Interesting performances, even for a 1920's silent film. Robeson possesses an oddly contemporary swagger (I haven't seen his other films, yet).

    Narratively ... weird. Interesting performances, even for a 1920's silent film. Robeson possesses an oddly contemporary swagger (I haven't seen his other films, yet).

  • Mar 01, 2016

    I love silent films, though this one heralding the first film performance of Paul Robeson is simply good or decent, not great or essential. Robeson's performance is excellent in an otherwise average melodrama, and it's clear he's going to be a star of the silver screen. In her only cinematic appearance, Julia Theresa Russell, who was the director's sister-in-law, deserves mention, however. She's gorgeous and her acting wasn't bad at all. The jazz/blues/spiritual score on the Criterion Collection release, I believe by Wycliffe Gordon, is outstanding. Recommended if you like either silent films or Paul Robeson.

    I love silent films, though this one heralding the first film performance of Paul Robeson is simply good or decent, not great or essential. Robeson's performance is excellent in an otherwise average melodrama, and it's clear he's going to be a star of the silver screen. In her only cinematic appearance, Julia Theresa Russell, who was the director's sister-in-law, deserves mention, however. She's gorgeous and her acting wasn't bad at all. The jazz/blues/spiritual score on the Criterion Collection release, I believe by Wycliffe Gordon, is outstanding. Recommended if you like either silent films or Paul Robeson.

  • Feb 14, 2014

    I love silent films, though this one heralding the first film performance of Paul Robeson is simply good or decent, not great or essential. Robeson's performance is excellent in an otherwise average melodrama, and it's clear he's going to be a star of the silver screen. In her only cinematic appearance, Julia Theresa Russell, who was the director's sister-in-law, deserves mention, however. She's gorgeous and her acting wasn't bad at all. The jazz/blues/spiritual score on the Criterion Collection release, I believe by Wycliffe Gordon, is outstanding. Recommended if you like either silent films or Paul Robeson.

    I love silent films, though this one heralding the first film performance of Paul Robeson is simply good or decent, not great or essential. Robeson's performance is excellent in an otherwise average melodrama, and it's clear he's going to be a star of the silver screen. In her only cinematic appearance, Julia Theresa Russell, who was the director's sister-in-law, deserves mention, however. She's gorgeous and her acting wasn't bad at all. The jazz/blues/spiritual score on the Criterion Collection release, I believe by Wycliffe Gordon, is outstanding. Recommended if you like either silent films or Paul Robeson.

  • Jun 16, 2013

    One of the more talked about Oscar Michaeux films that was the feature film debut of African American Actor Paul Robeson. Although this film had major budget restraints & left the film with many holes its the story is of two brothers both played by Paul Robeson one a gentle man the other a convict posing as a priest. Both are after Isabelle & she mainly likes the gentleman but mother pushes her to Priest who is a violent, dishonest & criminal man in actuality. The film is filled with some confronting flashback especially the rape scene which was done with just shots of the feet. A confronting film ahead of its time & Oscar Micheaux was not only a pioneer of Early Black Cinema but a figurehead in cinema alone, well worth a watch.

    One of the more talked about Oscar Michaeux films that was the feature film debut of African American Actor Paul Robeson. Although this film had major budget restraints & left the film with many holes its the story is of two brothers both played by Paul Robeson one a gentle man the other a convict posing as a priest. Both are after Isabelle & she mainly likes the gentleman but mother pushes her to Priest who is a violent, dishonest & criminal man in actuality. The film is filled with some confronting flashback especially the rape scene which was done with just shots of the feet. A confronting film ahead of its time & Oscar Micheaux was not only a pioneer of Early Black Cinema but a figurehead in cinema alone, well worth a watch.

  • Sep 27, 2012

    A movie that has a great reputation ahead of being a great movie (this was one of the first "all black" movies ever made). If there was one reason to see this movie, that would be for the great Paul Robeson, who just outshines everyone here with his acting ability. As a matter of fact, when everyone is emoting, emoting, emoting, Robeson is more natural, and therefore more believable. Speaking of believable, the story is pretty hoary, with a cheat ending of course. Not the greatest movie. But what do you expect from Michaux?

    A movie that has a great reputation ahead of being a great movie (this was one of the first "all black" movies ever made). If there was one reason to see this movie, that would be for the great Paul Robeson, who just outshines everyone here with his acting ability. As a matter of fact, when everyone is emoting, emoting, emoting, Robeson is more natural, and therefore more believable. Speaking of believable, the story is pretty hoary, with a cheat ending of course. Not the greatest movie. But what do you expect from Michaux?

  • Jun 18, 2010

    Paul Robeson's debut film in Oscar Micheaux's silent film is quite a taboo, groundbreaking film in its time, but due to censors, it only survives in a truncated form, with many elements reshot, cut out, and tacked on with an "It was all a dream" ending that actually makes things "Happily ever after". With this, Robeson's role as twin brothers does get confusing at times. Oh well... It is still worth seeing, as Black cinema in the 1920s is far and few between, especially the surviving ones.

    Paul Robeson's debut film in Oscar Micheaux's silent film is quite a taboo, groundbreaking film in its time, but due to censors, it only survives in a truncated form, with many elements reshot, cut out, and tacked on with an "It was all a dream" ending that actually makes things "Happily ever after". With this, Robeson's role as twin brothers does get confusing at times. Oh well... It is still worth seeing, as Black cinema in the 1920s is far and few between, especially the surviving ones.

  • May 16, 2010

    my first film to see featuring the great paul robeson, and i was impressed with the ability of the oscar micheaux as a silent director. while the ending was highly disappointing, the raw emotional power that robeson exudes in his role is astonishing. theres a reason why he is pointed to as one of the pioneers of african american cinema.

    my first film to see featuring the great paul robeson, and i was impressed with the ability of the oscar micheaux as a silent director. while the ending was highly disappointing, the raw emotional power that robeson exudes in his role is astonishing. theres a reason why he is pointed to as one of the pioneers of african american cinema.

  • Feb 11, 2009

    Pretty fascinating film. The ending is a bit odd, but in class we found a number of reasons why it might not suck.

    Pretty fascinating film. The ending is a bit odd, but in class we found a number of reasons why it might not suck.

  • Nov 06, 2008

    good stuff Robeson's acting/screen debut.

    good stuff Robeson's acting/screen debut.